Japan-China Senkaku spat may hurt Tokyo's 2020 Olympic bid

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 24, 2012 09:41 hrs

The ongoing dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands could affect the outcome of the voting for the 2020 Olympics, thereby making Istanbul's path to victory easier, a prominent Turkish journalist has said.

Sports editor Cetin Cem Yilmaz, of the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, said that the ongoing conflict has been mentioned as a 'possible advantage' for the Turkish bid.

The dispute between Japan and China has sparked protests, vandalism, economic boycotts and complicated already tense diplomatic relations between the nations.

According to the Japan Times, the general public's unbridled enthusiasm to host the 2020 Summer Olympics could also give Istanbul the boost it needs to win the vote over Tokyo and Madrid, and Yilmaz believes that is the driving force behind the Turkish Olympic Committee's bid.

"Actually, that looks as the most important factor in Istanbul's Olympic aspirations," he wrote in an email, providing an important perspective just 11 months before International Olympic Committee members will convene in Buenos Aires, officially on Sept. 7, 2013, to vote for the 2020 host city.

"The local officials, the government and the public are firmly standing behind Istanbul's bid. A well-known survey stated that 87 percent of the public want Istanbul to host the Olympic Games, which is a remarkably higher number than other candidate cities," he added.

"The biggest factor in the support is the belief that this Games would showcase Turkey's rising to the global stage," Yilmaz said.

"For many people, hosting the Olympic Games would symbolize Turkey's power that it can be up there with other major countries: USA, China, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany or France who have hosted previous events. On the other hand, people know that Istanbul can benefit greatly for the Games for infrastructure, city planning, etc," he added.

For Turkey, its unique status as "bridge between different cultures," Yilmaz pointed out, "is a key selling point of the bid.

Indeed, Istanbul is a city that connects Europe and Asia in a modern, secular, Muslim nation in a region surrounded by nations with governments fueled by Islamic ideology.

"National Olympic Committee leader Ugur Erdener has told the Hurriyet Daily News that Turkey's economic and political consistency is a key factor, as well as the country having a charismatic leader in (Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan," he said.

"I believe that bringing the Olympic Games to a new destination after Beijing (in 2008) and Rio (the 2016 Summer Games host city) will boost Turkey's chances, given that Istanbul is one of the biggest cities in the world that has never hosted the Olympics," he added.

"Of course, the Olympics are a completely different experience, but the last decade of hosting sports events do look quite good on Turkey's resume," he added.(ANI)

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